Stockdale Paradox – Have Faith, But Be Honest

Stockdale Paradox – Have Faith, But Be Honest

Written by: Komail Mithani

October 16, 2013 3:30 pm 0 comments

You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.

AND at the same time…

You must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

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As I’m starting my entrepreneurial journey, one of parts of my life I can’t stop doing is learning. No matter what that situation or where I am, I’m always learning. Hence, this is why I’m passionate and nerdy about reading business books, like Good to Great. In this book, Author Jim Collins and his research team spent five years trying to identify the common factors that separated good (or briefly great) companies, from companies which were able to achieve and then sustain excellence for fifteen consecutive years or more.

I had to put down this book to write this quick blog post.

In chapter 4, Collins introduces the Stockdale Paradox, which is named after James Stockdale. Stockdale’s story, which you can read more on his Wikipedia page, is truly admiring. But, what came for his mentality is the Stockdale Paradox, which is above. Even if you don’t read this book, I wanted to spotlight one lesson that I believe everyone can benefit from and grow. Let’s take a deeper look.

You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.

AND at the same time…

One thing I’ve learned on my short journey so far, is you must have faith in yourself and you must have faith in your business. To start a company on your own or inherit a new position, you need to believe in yourself. At the end of the day, you’ll have supporters and naysayers, neither can or will believe in you or your company as much as yourself and the team you assemble around you.

You must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

However, Stockdale cautioned the first part of the paradox with the above follow-up. He noted the difference between having faith and being optimistic. To be honest, I was under the impression both were near synonyms. But, as Stockdale explains, an optimist is someone that can’t confront the brutal facts of his/her reality. And then it hit me, as a business owner, it’s my responsibility to understand the hard facts about the industry that I’m in and the challenges facing ahead, but that doesn’t mean I’ll give up or lose faith in my company.

If you think about it, Collins isn’t merely sharing a Good to Great company trait, but a professional development tool to share and practice. Hiccups and diffculties will always come infront of success, you just have to have faith that what you’re doing will work, but don’t be blind-sided by the cold hard facts that can be overlooked by your optimism.

What do you think about Stockdale’s Paradox?